I hate to leave the Island in the summer, but there were four good reasons why my wife and I traveled to Europe in June:

A wedding on Spain’s Costa Brava in an exquisite little chapel built into a castle;

Two days in Barcelona, a wonderful city with my favorite building, Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia;

Six days in Freiburg, Germany, possibly the best-planned city on the continent, whose downtown is reserved almost exclusively for pedestrians and bicyclists;

A side trip to Basel, Switzerland, for an exhibit by cutting-edge artist Gerhard Richter at a museum already replete with Picassos, Matisses, Cézannes and Monets.

We didn’t play bridge, but we did practice a bidding drill invented by Australian expert Ron Klinger. Take the 16 “court” cards (aces, kings, queens and jacks) and mix them with 16 spot cards. From your deck of 32, deal two 13-card hands and bid them. You’ll get plenty of experience in reaching games and slams. Try this one with a partner:


♠ A K J

♥ Q 4

♦ 8

♣ A K Q J 5 3 2



♥ A K J 5 3

♦ A K J 4 3 2

♣ 4

Hearing South open, anyone picking up a North hand with 9 1/2 likely tricks is likely to think grand slam. The question is how to get there and whether to place the contract in a suit or No Trump.

Hint: we were playing the 2-over-1 system in which a two-level response of a lower suit than partner opened at the one level is forcing to game. Here’s how I recommend the hand should be bid:

South                             North

1♦                                 2 ♣

2 ♥                                3 ♣

3 ♥                               4NT

5♦*                              7NT


* Shows 0 or 3 “key cards” (four aces and ♥K)

By simply — and safely — rebidding clubs, North gives South the chance to rebid hearts and show likely 6-5 distribution in diamonds and hearts. Since a trump suit hasn’t been agreed on, North’s 4NT is telling south to assume her last-bid suit, hearts, is trump.

North has different plans for the contract and is only interested in the ♥ A-K and the ♦A. Here’s where Roman Key Card Blackwood comes in handy. The responses to 4NT that we use are:

5♣: 1 or 4 key cards

5♦: 0 or 3

5♥: 2 or 5 without the trump queen

5♠: 2 or 5 including the trump queen

Once South shows all three missing key cards — there would be no way to open with none of them — North can confidently bid 7NT.